Dutch students unveil the world's first system that converts formic acid into electricity, which is then used to power an autobus. Jim Drury has more.
This trailer - dubbed REX - will fuel the attached bus using formic acid, the first time it's been tried anywhere. Both REX and the fuel itself were developed by Team FAST, from Eindhoven University of Technology. SOUNDBITE (English) MAX AERTS, TEAM MANAGER, TEAM FAST, SAYING: "We combine a hydrogen molecule with a carbon dioxide molecule, and when they are combined formic acid is formed, and that's a liquid. So you can store hydrogen in a liquid and that's easy to fuel." In a trial this year local transport company VDL will attach REX to one of its buses and produce electricity that powers the electric vehicle. SOUNDBITE (English) MAX AERTS, TEAM MANAGER, TEAM FAST, SAYING: "You can see the white panel on the left. That's actually the tank in which we store the hydrozine. Then from the tank it's pumped into the reformer and that's the black thing on the right side and in the reformer - that's really the innovation that we have been making - the hydrozine is cut up back into hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide gas, and we lead that gas mixture to the fuel cell - that's the square on the left, the grey part. There the hydrogen is combined with oxygen from the air and turned into electricity. Now that electricity we use then to power the bus and make it drive further than than it ever could." Team FAST says using hydrozine is cheaper than transporting hydrogen in large tanks at high pressure. It also requires fewer modifications to filling station infrastructure. SOUNDBITE (English) LUCAS VAN CAPPELLEN, MARKETING MANAGER, TEAM FAST, SAYING: "The pricing of the fuelling stations will be comparable with diesel or gasoline, which makes it 100 times cheaper than hydrogen. And furthermore the energy density paper per volume is three times higher for hydrozine than for hydrogen and even four times higher than batteries so that means that in the same amount of volume of your fuel you can store way more energy and that makes it able to on the same amount of fuel drive much further." Team FAST says the technology could have a big environmental impact, because it's CO2 neutral, with no nitric oxides or sulphuric oxides emitted.